Beef Market Update: Tough run for cattle feeders as feed prices continue to rise

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It’s been a mild December so far across the country, and although we will need some more moisture on the ground before the spring, most are sure enjoying it right now.

Anne Wasko of the Gateway Livestock Exchange couldn’t agree more. And although the weather may be making us happy, the cattle market has been tough this week.

Cash cattle trade in the U.S. has been a bit “disappointing” according to Wasko, as a couple dollars has been lost in the south, dropping down to $108, and in the north it’s been sitting around $106/$107, which is $3-4 lower than last week. The choice cutout has also been dropping, closing at $214.

“That choice cutout is $25 lower than a week ago, and $31 lower than when we would’ve talked two weeks ago,” explains Wasko. “It’s not a big surprise, but those are big moves. The flip side of that is that hopefully that should mean a good buy for the retailer to start stepping in and buying more beef at a good value.”

We did however see the western Canadian market pick up about $4 dressed over the past week — sitting at $234/cwt delivered. Ontario is seeing the same situation, looking at about $232/cwt dressed in the eastern part of the country.

It’s been a tough go for the cattle feeders in 2020, as we especially see feed prices continue to rise.

“We’re basically wrapping up the fall run, and those feeder cattle prices in Western Canada have stayed really solid other than a couple weeks back in October where they were off, but really solid versus a year ago,” Wasko says. “Given what we’ve seen with feed grain prices, with how much higher they are than last year, and the strength in this Canadian dollar — we’re up over 78 cents — these losses have really carried on for cattle feeding losses in western Canada for virtually all of 2020. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, but those markets really are remaining strong.”

Check out the full conversation between Wasko and RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney, below:

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